- The Mavericks welcomed Dirk Nowitzki back tonight in a move that should take the burden off some of the other starters, Sefko writes in a separate story. Harrison Barnes is second in the NBA in minutes played at 38.1 per game, and teammate Wesley Matthews is fourth at 36.9. The Mavs are always concerned about Matthews after the torn Achilles he suffered in 2015. “It’s not the injury history, it’s the length of the season,” Carlisle said. “There’s a cumulative effect of guys being out there too much. But there’s no substitute for a warrior like him who is the best perimeter defender we’ve got and hits big shots. His value to our team is unmistakable. I just got to find a little more rest for him, that’s all.”
- Sefko suggested the Bucks’ Khris Middleton as a potential trade target if the Mavericks are able to make a playoff push. In a question-and-answer session, the writer said Middleton would be the kind of building block Dallas needs, but added that he had no inside information to suggest that such a deal had been discussed.
- The team is hoping Harris will be back in a week to 10 days, tweets Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com. Harris hasn’t played yet this season because of a sprained right big toe and he will wear a carbon plate in his shoe for protection.
Outside shooting is one potential area of concern for the Timberwolves heading into the 2017/18 season, as many of the team’s major offseason additions, including Jimmy Butler, aren’t exactly marksmen from three-point range. However, as Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune outlines, the Wolves may end up getting some shooting from an unlikely source, with Taj Gibson – who has made four career three-pointers – working to extend his range.
“He worked on it all summer,” said head coach Tom Thibodeau after Gibson made a pair of threes in the Timberwolves’ preseason opener. “He always had a pretty good corner jump shot from 17 feet. He has stretched it out. As long as he works on it and he’s comfortable shooting it, I’m good with it.”
Thibodeau went out and signed the former Bull this offseason because he valued Gibson’s selflessness and toughness, but if the veteran big man can develop a reliable outside shot, it would give the Timberwolves a much-needed boost.
Here’s more from around the Northwest division:
- Given the Thunder‘s struggles last season when Russell Westbrook wasn’t on the court, the impact of Oklahoma City’s Raymond Felton signing shouldn’t be overlooked, writes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. As Horne notes, the Thunder are expected to stagger Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony, meaning Felton should have some help, but the veteran point guard has taken ownership of the team’s second unit.
- In a separate piece for The Oklahoman, Horne examines the 15th spot on the Thunder‘s roster. The club currently has 13 players on fully guaranteed salaries, with Jerami Grant set to make the roster too. That leaves one opening for a player like Semaj Christon or Isaiah Canaan, but with multiple players capable of handling the ball, the Thunder may decide they don’t need another point guard and opt to enter the season with that 15th spot open, writes Horne.
- While this year’s Trail Blazers‘ roster looks very similar to last year’s squad, a pair of positions in the starting lineup are up for grabs, with the club attempting to determine its rotation at the forward spots. Joe Freeman of The Oregonian takes a closer look.